Third Sunday of Advent

A Holy Way

The days are getting shorter. There is less sunlight. For many of us it is also less Son of God light. We are living in darker times, are we not?This was certainly true for the Israelites during the time of the Prophet Isaiah.

Things seemed to be spiraling out of control. The people were no longer in charge of their own destiny. While it is true that their sin got them in this place, there seemed little they could do to get out of their predicament.

Is it not the same ro u today? We see sinister people unfolding sinister plans. Where was God? What is God doing?

Wicked people have wicked plans, but God always has his plan. To a nation that was defeated and downtrodden, God made promises through the Prophet Isaiah. Israel could only see a barren wilderness. God saw an opportunity:

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,

with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”   (Isaiah 35:1-4)

God’s plan changed the fate of his chosen people. Even today, it will have an impact on us as well. Because God did something for all of humankind that we could not do for themselves. He offered us a path to commune with a Holy God. Retuning to Isaiah:

A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;

the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.   (Isaiah 35:8)

For many of us, God ‘s intervention in our history cannot come soon enough. What is God doing? We have this warning from the Book of James:

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.   (James 5:7-8)

In today’s Gospel reading we are given an insight from Jesus into the Father’s plan. Jesus is speaking about John the Baptist, his forerunner:

Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

“Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”   (Matthew 11:7-11)

John was greater than Moses. He was greater than Elijah. How could he be d=considered the least in the kingdom of heaven? Let us look into the plan of God promised through Isaiah.

Jesus is God’s plan. He is the highway to Holiness. He fulfilled the Old Testament Covenant’s requirements of keeping the Law of God. Jesus did so by the cross. He took our sin on himself and paid the price for it. This opened a way for us to come to the Father.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.   (John 14:6)

Jesus’ sacrifice offers us a new Covenant with God. John the Baptist could not participate in this covenant because it had not yet been been fulfilled. Jesus had not yet gone to the cross.

The New Covenant allows us to enter into the Holiness of God the Father. Jesus is the Holy Way cited in the prophecy of Isaiah. But wew must fully join Jesus along the Way.

Advent is a season of waiting, It is also a season of watching. It is a season of anticipation, a season of expectation. Are we merely seeing the circumstances around us? Are we attempting to get our hearts right for Christmas?

The good news  is that we can’t. He has already done that for us. God has provided us a way to himself. It is the Holy Way. All we need to do is open up our hands and heart to him. Let us take our minds off of today’s crises. Then we we can feel the mighty rush of the Holy Spirit on us and around us. We are well on the way, my friends. Yes, it may still look like a wilderness out there, but the crocus it have blossomed abundantly.

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Filed under Revised Common Lectionary

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